Understanding the role of genes in osteoporosis for the development of new treatments

Disease - Osteoarthritis, osteomalacia, osteoporosis

Lead applicant - Dr Dylan Bergen

Organisation - University of Bristol

Type of grant - Foundation Fellowship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £204,792

Start date - 1 April 2019

Reference - 22044

What are the aims of this research?

People who have osteoporosis have bones that break more easily due to bone loss. Current treatments for osteoporosis help to prevent the bones from weakening further, but they do not effectively re-build the lost bone. In this project, the researchers are looking to understand how particular genes control the strength of bones so that new bone-building medicines can be developed in the future.

To do this, the researchers will study bone development in zebrafish to see how bone growth can change in response to gene changes. The particular genes being studied are the same in zebrafish and humans. From these findings the researchers will then develop a method to look for potential osteoporosis drug treatments that can successfully increase bone strength.

Why is this research important?

Previous research has found hundreds of genes that are thought to control bone strength in humans, and now the challenge lies in finding which of these genes are responsible for osteoporosis and which ones could be targeted with new treatments to increase building of bone. This project will use newly developed genetic techniques to find some of the most promising genes to look at.

How will the findings benefit people with arthritis?

This research will increase our understanding of the genes involved in osteoporosis and bone development. It will also help the development of new ways to quickly screen for potential drug targets, bringing us closer to the development of new, effective treatments for people with osteoporosis.